Tag: D&D

My new Let’s Play channel

My new Let’s Play channel

What’s up, gamers. T1meslayer here with a channel update for all y’all.

A few months ago I launched a series of toy unboxing videos with my sister that has gone on to achieve great acclaim. That first video has almost 100 views, and that not-LEGO Mimikyu was a star in my class’ Dungeons and Dragons campaign.

Our YouTube community has reached amazing heights, and I couldn’t be more proud of you all for helping me get to the coveted 1 subscriber milestone.

That’s why I’ve decided to launch a new project.

I’ll be going toe-to-toe with industry greats like the Game Grumps and Markiplier through my brand new gameplay channel: T1meslayer plays.

As you know I’m a huge Nintendo fanatic, so that’s going to be my primary focus. In fact, we’re starting off with one of my favorite titles on the GameBoy Advance. Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones (2004).

To help stand out from my competitors, I’m taking a new approach to YouTube gaming that I like to call “non-chronological let’s plays.”

We’ve all seen the first levels of certain games played a dozen times as new channels start to play, only to collapse under the weight of mediocrity before they get to the end.

I’m going to solve that problem by starting with Episode 5 and then jumping around.

So if you’re up to going on this journey with me, you can see the first episode of my series here:

Thanks so much for sticking by me during this turbulent time as I get ready to graduate. Like, comment and subscribe to see what’s coming next!



Alright. Obviously I don’t have a gaming channel.

Sorry to disappoint those of you who might be interested in watching that cringe-fest.

This let’s play video is actually one of the final assignments for my Gaming in American Culture class. We had to essentially parody the YouTube video game scene to try and convey some ideas we’re focusing on in our papers.

My paper is all about Sacred Stones, so my let’s play is an episode of what would be my Sacred Stones playthrough.

It was a nightmare actually putting this together (as one might expect when trying to pull an 18-minute video off of their iPhones to edit on a 10-year-old laptop), but I actually really like how it came out?

Like sure, I’m terrible on camera. And technology was so difficult that I skipped blog writing yesterday. But I cut out dead air and added an editorial commentary track to inject some humor, I think it’s a nice piece.

Nice enough to share publicly, at least.

Yet sharing the video is bittersweet. This is literally my penultimate college assignment. All I have left is the final paper for this same class.

Today was my last day of college ever — and it also happened to be my Gaming in American Culture.

Learned about some interesting things from these presentations. In sports especially, like the existence of pickleball and the beer mile.

The latter of which makes me happy that I don’t drink.

“Bittersweet” is really the best way I can describe my feelings. I’m happy to move onto the next stage in my life, especially since I can share the celebration with my family — particularly my grandparents from Florida, who both flew in together for the first time since my Bar Mitzvah.

Almost 10 years ago. Yikes.

But at the same time I have genuinely enjoyed my time in Academia, and the idea of finding a real job still terrifies me.

You don’t have to worry yourself with that part of my psyche, however. For the next couple days I’ll probably be posting all sorts of positive things on social media to try and convince you all that my life is nothing but wonderful.

Because that’s really what social media is all about, isn’t it?

In the meantime, enjoy my cringe-y let’s play.

Please.

I’m proud of it.

A pre-preparation of rites

A pre-preparation of rites

Like I mentioned in my post showing off the character sketches from my novel-in-progress, this Friday I will be presenting my Senior Honors Project at the Honors Project Interdisciplinary Conference.

We got the official email with the final schedule brochure and everything. It’s happening.

Not only is it happening, it’s coming up at full speed.

So most of my day has been spent preparing the Powerpoint I’ll be using. A few weeks back the Honors Program Director Sandra Perez asked me to help another student who wanted to do a creative writing project, as she said the pre-preparation I’d done was impressive.

That experience wound up being my lightbulb of inspiration. I realized that my project was better grounded in a Pre-Preparation of Rites than “I wrote part of a book.”

By the end, I’ve come to find that a whole lot of preparation was involved in my novel.

Most of it is stuff I’ve discussed on the blog before. The character sketches, map-making, research into Dungeons and Dragons and plotting out the story among them.

But then there are more exotic elements to the process as an overarching narrative — Such as my inspirational material, John Scalzi’s Redshirts and the prep work on earlier creative writing pieces.

And let’s not forget the elements I have yet to talk about.

Notably backend research into creating believable cultures for my fantasy world. I asked my old professor Paulo Simoes for some advice because a lot of his background involves researching ancient societies, figuring out how they tick.

He recommended trying to model my fictional cultures and the events that characterize my world off of real-world societies.

After all, he says it’s a successful strategy for shows like Game of Thrones, which modeled its famous Red Wedding scene after massacres in Scotland.

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Image courtesy of Game of Thrones Memes and Quotes Blogspot

Game of Thrones is in vogue to reference right now, yeah?

I’d hope so. Because I’m more than happy to capitalize on that, even though I haven’t personally watched the show.

For my project, however, I am not utilizing Game of Thrones in any capacity. Rather, I’m using “The Story of Civilization” collection of historical novels to base parts of my book on periods of history. As suggested by Dr. Simoes.

Along the way, I’ve been trying to craft the oral part of the presentation:

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I have 15 minutes to present, and then I’ll have to be ready for five minutes of audience questions. I’m hoping I’ll be all put together and confident by then.

While getting prepared, I took some time off with my Mom to go out and put something sweet together with the drawings from Elizabeth:

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Just a little something to help remember the project by. Doesn’t it look nice?

I think it looks really nice, personally.

My children come to life

My children come to life

Next week I will be presenting my Senior Project at the Honors Project Interdisciplinary Conference.

Literally, next week. Friday, May 3 at 11:10 a.m. in room 1307 of the Mihaylo College of Business and Economics.  Just in case any of you are interested in going!

It’s a whole panel on creative writing that includes my novel, a children’s book about a character with Down Syndrome and a collection of essays about learning English.

I’ll talk about that more, but it’s worth a plug now.

Mostly because it gives me an excuse to talk about one of my most exciting pieces of presentation preparation:

The character sketches.

For the last couple months I’ve been working with the wonderful Elizabeth Person to draw my four main characters. Having tangible ways to see them was a perfect way to spice up the PowerPoint.

It just so happened that my Mom knew Elizabeth from her work with Edward Branley (whom she does book edits for), and her art style meshed well with the fantasy aesthetic.

As you can see in my Featured Image, the drawings came out really well!

But of course… You didn’t think I would show off my babies and not talk about them, did you?

Nah. We talking all about these good folks!

I need to practice for my presentation, after all.


Warrior

Eliott Aviknard

Eli is a human knight who leads the adventuring party into raids, looking for treasure and glory so they can leave their small trading town in the Western Badlands and see the Bresegon Empire’s capital.

He proudly uses his father’s white armor and blade, both staples of the paladins who serve as royal guards. For the most part he is stoic and cool-headed in combat.

However, that cool facade often gives way to a defeatist, lamenting rant into a mug of ale as he blames himself for the party’s frequent inability to secure the treasure they need. Which, as a result imposes upon Romeri for funding, keeps Julianna from going abroad and impedes Sovann’s desire to prove himself as a thief.

He is also deathly afraid of horses, which comes up often as he tries to overcome that roadblock preventing him from truly becoming the paladin he claims to be (to the jest of his friends).


Mage3

Julianna Rhuiviel

Julianna is a quiet, well-studied elven mage, an up-and-coming expert in both tome- and scroll-based magics. She carries around enough encyclopedias to be a jack-of-all-trades in lore around the continent.

In the world of Isenvid and the Four Orbs (my novel’s current title), the elvish people have a tragic backstory. Their village in the Gnarled Forest was invaded by Bresegon soldiers and razed, with most of the children being taken away to reeducation schools.

Julianna was one such child, and to this day retains both a desire to find acceptance (only used to racist rejection), a drive to learn her people’s history and a fear of fire.

An element that tends to being important for a mage.

Her personal feelings of being unaccepted leave the girl self-conscious about her 7′ height, glowing porcelain skin and somewhat gangly figure. She covers herself up (under the guise of avoiding sunburns) and prefers to go by “Julie.”

Though Sovann and Romeri will frequently get on her nerves with the affectionate “Ju-Ju.”


Archer

Romeri Russev

Romeri is a human archer and the oldest member of the party. She is business-savvy and worldly, having traveled before settling down to run a tavern, and she’s matriarchal; offering all of her friends an ear.

She tends to be the most fashion-forward when not in battle-ready armor — but even then tends to go for style over substance. Her desire to look good is matched only by her desire for wealth and fiscal security.

In combat Romeri is indispensable, though she has a tendency to arrive late to the party. Her long-ranged attacks almost never miss, as she has a long history of training with some of the best soldiers on the continent.

In fact, her ex was a royal soldier who now runs her own traveling mercenary troupe. A connection that may or may not become relevant in the story. Wink wink, plug plug.

She terrifies the elf who tends bar while she is away, and her hair is dyed by flowers.


Cleric

Sovann Krei

Sovann is a human thief with a skin condition called vitiligo.

From an early age he was trained to be a cleric in the Furbism tradition, a religion that was nearly wiped out as its capital was sacked to leave the Bresegon Empire in control.

He’s an effective healer, but got bored of that mundane life and decided to become a thief. There he could find action and fight with his preferred weapon: Daggers. That transformation is symbolized by his old priest’s vestment, which has been modified to serve as a cloak.

However… He’s a klutz, and more often than not people will defeat enemies before he has the chance, which leaves Sovann relegated to healing duty.

He bemoans the job but eagerly helps his friends, and carries his old staff tied to his back with the unused sleeves of his cloak.

Sovann is also known to be a tease (especially fond of poking fun at the budding romance between Eli and Julianna that only they do not realize is happening), and will hit on just about anything that moves.


They’re wonderful, aren’t they?

I’m planning on finishing my novel over the summer once I have the stress of finals and graduation out of the way, which means hopefully you’ll all be able to read their story sometime soon!

In the meantime, I definitely recommend checking out Elizabeth’s work. It was hard to give away my babies and let someone else try to visualize how I’ve imagined them, but she did a wonderful job and was really communicative throughout the process.

Even traded rough sketches here and there for my feedback:

It’s been awesome, something I’m absolutely considering doing again.

I can’t wait to show these guys off alongside the preplanning of my plot and map next week!

The dungeons saga: Bedknobs and sheep schticks

The dungeons saga: Bedknobs and sheep schticks

After a week of unbridled anticipation, today was finally Dungeons and Dragons day.

Since the beginning of the semester, we were promised a three-hour class period of just playing the fantasy tabletop role-playing game in my Gaming in American Culture class.

Finally the day has arrived, and it was glorious.

Though it did begin with a bit of a time crunch.

I gathered with my friend Mimi in the Honors Center before class, as she is far more of an expert than I. Was looking to get her opinion on which pre-made character I should play for our campaign.

Instead we wound up making a brand new character in the hour. An experience I’m fairly new at, which combined wonderfully with computer troubles.

But we persevered, and on the other end came up with my amazing boy: Thokk.

Thokk is a half-orc war cleric. He wears scale armor, carries a warhammer and a light crossbow, is generally uncharismatic and speaks four languages: Common, Orc and… Two I totally decided on.

He is chaotic good with an acolyte background and serves as a member of the Eye of Justice, a religious sect following a deity named Torm who were considered heretics.

So he’s adventuring to stop evil as his divine righteousness demands, but he ain’t above causing some havoc to get the job done.

Also he’s a very good boy and I love him. Might even drop him into my novel.

However, today he was played by the denizen of death and mayhem:

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Fear the cloth.

Yeah, I used Mimikyu as my character’s stand-in miniature.

He stood alongside the other six members of my party quite well:

There was Teflonto, a wood elf ranger; Celia, a wood elf monk; Jeff, a half-orc fighter; Phil, a gnome bard; Rein, a half-elf cleric; and Silver, a human paladin.

Our Dungeon Master was the Professor, wielding an unending spring of knowledge, a set of golden dice and a lot of monsters.

Thus the adventure began.

We started in a tavern, where Jeff nearly got beheaded trying to steal from the bartender and Phil spat Mario-style fireballs from a potent whiskey.

The quest kicked off when a sheep arrived. But he was not a sheep, he was a wizard transformed by a dastardly ex-assistant with a grudge.

Mr. Evil Wizard’s mercenaries arrived in search of the former mentor-turned-livestock, and our first battle began.

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An eight-foot bear in a robe mauled Jeff as the animal-loving Teflonto was horrified by Thokk nailing a wolf to a barrel using a crossbow bolt.

That is, until he learned the animals were humanoids turned beast.

After a handy beating, the mercenary leader gave in and conferred his great sword to Silver. He escaped with a lie that the remaining wolf was his unfortunate wife.

A night’s rest later, the party made their way to the hollowed-tree tower where Mr. Evil Wizard hid.

Celia was able to use a mass sneaking fog to get the party past a gang of dice game-playing wolves, then get inside by climbing the bark and hanging a rope out.

Suspicious at the sudden fog filling his tower, Mr. Evil Wizard used his transmogrifying wand to turn his bed into a bed dragon that absolutely exists.

While hiding in the fog, Phil cast blindness on the wizard before running out, climbing the dragon, stealing the wand, climbing down and THEN escaping out the rope-strung window.

You should have seen the DM’s face when he kept failing rolls to prevent all of that.

After getting back to the ground, Silver attempted to use the wand to turn our sheep companion back into a man. Yet, even Thokk’s guidance spell could not help his luck as the poor NPC turned into a Cronenberg monster before exploding.

That drew the attention of Mr. Evil Wizard, who approached riding his bed dragon with an army of wolves and a bear.

The final battle for our lives began:

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We were fucked.

But… We were fucked with 10 minutes left. Because three hours goes by fast when you have to account for seven players.

Rein and Thokk conjured magic, ethereal weapons to strike Mr. Evil Wizard as the rest of the party threw darts and shot crossbows.

Teflonto was mauled by a pack of wolves. Silver attempted to persuade the wolves to play a dice game with him, but to no avail. The wolves kept at it and Silver just watched.

Luckily, the almighty power of Deus Ex Machina was applied by the DM — who wanted the bell to end our one-shot campaign.

The wolves and bear turned against their master with the promise of being turned back to humanoid form. As Celia, Phil (now changed into a sheep) and Rein suffered splinters from the dragon’s breath, Teflonto stood up and shot an arrow into Mr. Evil Wizard’s face.

Once he and his dragon fell, we gained access to a convenient number of transmogrifying spells. Everyone was turned back to normal.

The end.

It may have been “cheap” that we were helped out of a bottomless hole by the DM because of time constraints, but it was justified by the journey.

All of our luck from the initial tavern fight and stealth mission came crashing down in the most spectacular of ways, and we undoubtedly would have all died without the handicap.

So in my personal headcanon, I like to imagine our party fell in the search for treasure and conquering evil.

However… In reality, none of our party fell.

Which means that Thokk lives to one day return, perhaps enlightened by his experience fighting the tyrannical Mr. Evil Wizard man.

All-and-all, I would say it was a very successful class.

Definitely worth a semester’s worth of anticipation, and definitely more than encouraging for me to go back and play more D&D in the future.

The dungeons prequel

The dungeons prequel

We are officially one week away from Dungeons and Dragons day in my Gaming in American Culture class.

Toward the beginning of the semester I listed D&D day as one of the enticing course elements, so being on the cusp makes me salivate with anticipation.

Considering I barely have any experience outside of one character building session in high school, I’ve gotten a little practice. We played D&D at the party I brought my Redondo Beach friends to in Fullerton over Spring Break.

I kicked ass as my pre-built elf sorcerer Elfson.

But in-class today we prepared for our upcoming escapades in a different way: Talking about the moral panics caused by D&D.

Because you know. If something is fun and leaning in a pagan direction, parents are going to freak out about it.

Looking at you, Pokémon. And also Pokémon.

… Okay, it’s not entirely fair to simplify that into a joke. We actually discussed interesting aspects behind the 1980’s D&D panic, including the perceived loss of self-identity to multiple, fractured fantasy identities steeped in olde mythological traditions of witchcraft and monsters.

It just so happens that you can only showcase the moral panic by laying out all of the over-the-top examples of role-playing game hysteria.

Most notably: Dark Dungeons.

This amazing comic created by Jack T. Chick in 1984 seems to be the perfect embodiment of Big Brother wiping out imagination and personal expression in exchange for the conformity of true-blue American Catholicism.

Or that’s how my boy Mitchell perceived it, at least.

There are arguably kernels of truth in Chick’s fear of fantasy overwhelming reality. It’s hard to take the guy seriously when you write such lines as:

“Lord Jesus … you guide me through life. I want You to be in charge of everything…not that lousy D&D manual.”

Following the deus ex machina of random friend appearing to save the damsel in distress — having apparently prayed and fasted for her off-screen.

Or at least… I find it hard to take this comic seriously.

Apparently others do not, as a short film adaptation came out in 2014.

Something I only know about because my friend Jonathan reminded me that JonTron put out a video about the movie in 2016.

Isn’t the internet just a god damn beautiful mess?

But wait, that’s not all!

On top of Dark Dungeons, we spent part of our class period watching and discussing Mazes and Monsters.

The 1982 Tom Hanks flick where then-unknown sentient toy cowboy / crazy stranded FedEx employee / historic figure with a pension for chocolate almost kills himself after getting so invested in a parody of D&D that he can no longer distinguish fantasy from real life.

It’s amazing that Hanks went on to have one of the most successful actor careers of all time with a start as wild as Mazes and Monsters.

With all of that said, it only makes sense that we get to risk our lives playing the tabletop role-playing game for our entire next class period.

By God am I looking forward to it.


P.S. — There was another cool part of my day that I wanted to talk about, but could not think of an organic way to include it. Outside of there being vaguely related fantasy elements.

So I’ll just pin it down here.

During the break between my classes, Dr. Sandra Perez (the Director of the University Honors Program) brought over an underclassman while I was working in the Honors Center because she wants to write a fiction novel for her senior project.

Apparently I was the expert in that department, as Dr. Perez said she was very impressed with all of the pre-planning she’d seen me do for my novel.

It was nice to be considered an expert in something like that!

Or at least the most readily available spring of knowledge.


Featured Image courtesy of Philip Mitchell via Wikimedia Commons

Let’s all go to Munchkinland

Welcome to “I put this off until late and decided to scrounge something together based on semi-recent activities as a last ditch effort” blog post #1738.

Trademarked.

Last night I spent St. Patrick’s Day in Fullerton celebrating with my friend Mimi and a few of her people. Even dragged my friend Juan out there with me, which was somewhat bizarre, but I would argue successful.

Bizarre mostly in that we’ve never really travelled outside of Redondo as a duo, that is. You can judge his personal eccentricities for yourself.

Oh and before you ask, I did not drink at the party. No Irish coffee for me.

Had to drive, and as Sonic Sez:

It was a small party with maybe eight people, and one that took up my entire evening with board games and video games and corned beef — hence my lack of a post yesterday.

Theoretically I could have written something before the party… But I got caught up with work meetings and getting homework done.

So sue me.

I figured you all would not be interested in the exciting adventures of leaving the gym early to go check on Grandpa after he fell out of his wheelchair. Especially since he’ll fine and will tell you he’s “impervious.” I believe it.

Instead, I think it might be fun to focus on a little game we played at last night’s called Munchkin.

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I took no pictures, so you’ll have to deal with a few stock images.

For those of you who only know Munchkins as delicious donut holes from Dunkin’ Donuts (Not an ad? But could be an ad), I’ll lay down the groundwork.

Munchkins the board game was developed by Steve Jackson Games and is, for all intents and purposes, a parody of Dungeons and Dragons. Players travel through a dungeon, collect treasure and class/race/gender changes and advance (mostly) by killing monsters like Lawyers and [Inter]Net Trolls.

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An example of some of the equipment players can utilize.

It’s a game where players can ask one another for help or screw each other over, which becomes an ocean of mind games once one player is poised to win and the rest stack curses and debuffs during their combat.

It’s a game which apparently has been around since 2001? Which is kind of insane to me.

This stupid game is as old as my little sister.

And only about half as stupid as her, am I right? *Insert Rimshot here*

*Insert inevitable slap upside the head for that comment here*

Jokes aside, the more I look into this game the more I’m generally impressed by it. There are nearly 200 products, playmats like in Yu-Gi-Oh! and. So many icons.

 

 

The fact that I’ve never heard of this game until yesterday is kind of astounding.

Though, to be fair, my board gaming experience didn’t go much further than Monopoly and Cards Against Humanity until my Gaming in American Culture class started.

That all said, I suppose this post has kind of turned into a bit of an endorsement for the game? It’s not an ad, but it could be an ad. Because I would certainly recommend it for people looking to play something engaging with a bunch of friends.

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Counters from the game.

I’m not joking when I say things get intense by the end.

I absolutely would have won my game if Mimi didn’t sweep the victory one rotation before my turn. And I’m still mad about it.

Plus, the game fits well into my recent dives into D&D creatures for my novel. It’s just the kind of thing that’s up my alley.

So take my enthusiasm with a grain of salt. Or with a pile of soft, sugary donut holes.

Your choice.


Images courtesy of Bobbyfinger and Pegasus Spiele via Wikimedia Commons

Ten-dollars worth of nihilism

Ten-dollars worth of nihilism

As I battle the unholy combination of impulsively long writing and too much content in the form of video game mechanics and aesthetics for my first Gaming in American Culture paper, it’s about time for a break.

Because my 4-6 page restriction has long since been surpassed by a 10-page first draft, and I’m electing to take advantage of the Sunday deadline’s opportunity for procrastination.

Instead, why not write a blog post?

In lieu of something substantial (as I have spent my afternoon writing about video games and listening to Ender’s Game), I figure why not take advantage of the Cognitive Psychology student presentation I watched during class this morning?

As I’ve briefly discussed in the past, our main grade outside of exams in Cog Psych are coming from presentations we have to give on a professional study which will become the subject of our research papers.

The presentation given today was about the spacing effect: In which we memorize better by spacing out information rehearsal over long periods of time than with condensed study.

To show us how this worked, the group’s activity involved learning obscure vocabulary terms intersperced by periods of rest and cat videos.

If you know me at all by now, you know that I can’t let a particularly interesting vocabulary word slip by without making a “ten-dollar word of the day” post.

Thus, I present to you:


Nihilarian

Noun

  1. A person who deals with things lacking importance.

via the Collins Dictionary


As a long-time user of nihilism, both in my vocabulary and philosophical musings (particularly fun with YouTube dives into popular culture), I was quite interested to learn a new word with a similar root.

It’s a simple but poignant term. Nihil-, the Latin word for nothingness, mixed with the suffix of different jobs — reminiscent of words like librarian, technician, etc.

While the word was used to help us learn a facet of psychology, my introduction to nihilarian engaged an entirely different part of my brain.

Now I’m going to look for any excuse to use the phrase to describe a character in my novel. Because the Honors Project is such a hodgepodge of influences from my daily experiences that I may as well.

Perhaps it could apply to one of my new mantis people.

See, I very recently had the drive to include a race of praying mantis-like characters. The idea came serendipitously in a dream I had last night — which I suppose is the kind of intuition I’m listening to now.

Next thing you know I’ll be a full-blown spiritualist.

They may be Thri-kreen, a la my similar inclusion of Aarakocra bird people from Dungeons and Dragons lore (because literally everything exists in D&D apparently, and my friend Sam is great at pointing out the obscure bits).

Or they may be something more humanoid of my own creation, considering how uncomfortable I am with full-on bug people after seeing the D&D depiction.

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Image courtest of the Forgotten Realms Wiki.

Either way, mantis folk are coming. And one of them will likely deal with things lacking importance.


Image courtesy of Woolchan via Wikimedia Commons

Fantastical Creatures

/me hopes that title is different enough to avoid any sort of legal action from Warner Bros. or J.K. Rowling

With Dad at work and Mom + Aly off in Disneyland where the youngin’ was marching in a parade (which would be a much more exciting story if it was mine to tell), I had the house to myself today.

So obviously I partied hard with some friends, got messed up on drugs, died and am now writing this from the grave.

Boo.

In all seriousness, I didn’t party too hard and become a spooky, scripting spirit. As cool as that would be.

I actually had a chill afternoon all on my lonesome. I didn’t even leave the house outside of going to the gym.

After two weekends of running around doing things with relatives, it was nice to take it slow and focus on my own stuff. Mostly because all of the running around made me fall behind on my novel-writing schedule.

20 pages a week doesn’t seem like too much until you get hit with the roadblock of a death in the family.

But luckily, I was able to rectify that setback with a nice, quiet day on the couch.

At this point I’ve made it to ~35 pages, with my goal being at least 40 before tomorrow.

So far everything is shaping up far nicer than in my original 12-page attempt at a draft. I’ve actually made it past the first major set piece of the story: An underground cavern with a single room at the end of it.

… Exciting, I know. I promise it sounds better with in-depth descriptions!

One of the more interesting bits of research I’ve done recently to push my writing forward was, as the title suggests, finding the right mythical Tolkien-esque creature to fit the slot of an antagonistic race for my main characters.

Luckily my friend Sam is a bit of a Dungeons and Dragons savant and came up with a whole bunch of possibilities when I asked if there were any good avian-themed monsters I could use.

Why avian specifically? It was a jokey idea when I was writing that early draft that started when I described a helmet as beak-like, and stuck so I could make one of my characters call them “birdbrains.”

So… Bird people. Seemed legit.

I didn’t quite expect there to be so many different kinds of bird people, however. There really is a ton to unpack when you delve into the inner-machinations of an experience like D&D.

Probably the most obvious and well-known example is the Harpy.

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Courtesy of DnD Beyond

Pretty famous representative from Greek mythology. Not a bad choice, but a little too much of a monster-monster for my tastes.

The kind of creature you can see mindlessly attacking, but not necessarily forming an advanced society.

So next came the Kenku.

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Courtesy of Giger’s 5E D&D

Definitely a closer match, given their clear propensity for humanoid dress and a variety of roles in warfare.

However, the crow look is a bit too inherently evil-looking, and they are quite a sinister race apparently. Was looking for more of a neutral appearance.

Plus they cannot fly in the lore, which is something I wanted to include.

So Kenku were a no.

Luckily the third choice, Aarakorca, was perfect.

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Courtesy of DnD Beyond

Check out these majestic bastards.

Not only are they a perfect blend of humanoid and avian features to make for a fairly human-like sensibility in my story, but the extra lore features from D&D — their obsession with self-grooming, bilingualism, status as traveling explorers and the fact that they look like giant birds while flying — make great tie-ins to my story’s purpose for them.

Namely… To be a surrogate for Napoleonic-era French society.

Yeah, that’s right.

It’ll be even weirder when I write about their leader riding around on a horse despite being a literal birdman. And I love it.

Being able to gather all sorts of new knowledge on interesting fantasy creatures has been a great pleasure of mine over the course of this project. It’s essentially an amalgamate of some of my favorite video games, movies and books in the fantasy genre, so the more I can include the better.

Wargroove is the big contributor of new ideas to my concoction at the moment, but that game deserves its own story another day.

In the meantime, I’m going to get back to writing so I can finish this section I’m in the middle of. Who knows, perhaps I’ll start to trickle out passages and chapters for advice in the near future.

All I know now is that this line kind of defines my brain.

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